New Delhi: The UK has confirmed to the CBI that fugitive billionaire Nirav Modi, alleged to be the mastermind of India’s biggest banking fraud of over USD 2 billion, is in their country, officials said today.
The Central Bureau of Investigation submitted an extradition request to the home ministry immediately after getting the confirmation, they said. The request to bring him back will be sent to the United Kingdom through the External Affairs Ministry. The agency has also requested authorities in the UK to detain him on the basis of the Red Corner Notice issued by the Interpol against him, they said. The RCN was issued on the request of the CBI in June this year, officials said.
In its RCN issued against a fugitive, the Interpol asks its 192 member countries to arrest or detain the person if spotted in their countries after which extradition or deportation proceedings can begin.
Nirav Modi, along with his wife Ami Modi, a US citizen, brother Nishal Modi, a Belgian citizen, and uncle Mehul Choksi, all accused in the CBI’s FIRs in the case, left the country in the first week of January, weeks before country’s biggest banking scam surfaced. Choksi has been located in Antigua, where he has taken citizenship, officials said.
Nirav Modi and Choksi have refused to return to India to join the probe, citing business and health reasons, they said. Nirav Modi managed to travel across several countries even after information about his passport being revoked by the Indian government was flashed in the Interpol central database on February 24, the CBI had said earlier.
“After the passport was revoked/cancelled by the External Affairs Ministry, we had updated this information in the diffusion notice. The information that Nirav Modi’s passport has been revoked was provided in the Interpol central database, available to all the member countries, on February 24,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal had said.
After the “diffusion” notice was issued by the Interpol on the request of the CBI, the agency followed it up with six countries where Nirav Modi was suspected to have fled to, he had said. The agency requested these countries to share information about his whereabouts and movements.
The agency sent these reminders to the Interpol coordination agency of the United Kingdom on April 25, May 22, May 24 and May 28. The scam pertains to the alleged issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) of more than USD 2 billion to companies of Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi by the Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai during 2011-17, officials said.
An LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks with branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant.
Nirav Modi and his companies allegedly availed credit from the overseas branches of Indian banks using the fraudulent PNB guarantees given through LoUs and letters of credit issued by the Brady House branch which were not repaid, bringing the liability on the state-run bank, the officials said.